If truth be told we'd known for a while that we wouldn't have enough time to make the most of Chile. In classic Briony Doubleday (Moffat) tradition, eg. not rushing for the last 3 1/2 months, our time in Santiago had ended up feeling a bit rushed.
We were determined to give the capital a good go though and after our walking tour in Valparaiso we did the same thing in Santiago. The city itself was vast and you could see evidence of the various earthquakes that had taken place over the years. The tour was designed to show you an alternate side of the city and this culminated in a tour of the vast cemetery.
This was unlike any graveyard we'd seen back home. The place was huge and had it's own street system. The graves are all above ground due to the frequent earthquakes and the layered rows of them were a sight to beyond. The section for children was particularly sobering with small toys placed next to the graves. There was also huge mausoleums for various groups in society. From rich families through to poor shoe makers everyone had their spot. There were even graves of local saints, not in the traditional sense, more local people that had become famous due to various misfortunes. Their graves were regularly visited and adorned with hundreds of fresh flowers.
A less sobering day was spent at a local vineyard. A quick morning tour of the vines by bicycle, was followed by numerous tastings. We then took a couple of bottles as take away and enjoyed drinking them with two American friends we'd made on the tour.
The afternoon was spent at the excellent 'Memory Museum' a fascinating set of first hand accounts from the harrowing dictatorship in Chile between 1973 and 1990. Under the rule of General Augusto Pinochet who had close ties with Britain at the time, the Chilean people were subjected to horrific conditions. It was a stark reminder of the troubles nearly all the South American countries had faced at one time or another.
Our time in South America had come to an end. It had been an incredible 4 months. An amazing place to travel with so many stunning natural and manmade sights to discover. The people had been incredibly friendly and made so many friends along the way. It was now time for the next stage of our adventure, back to an English speaking country, flushing toilets and gluten free food.
We couldn't wait to see what wonders New Zealand had to offer.